Seven of 10 Filipinos against ‘Cha-cha’

By Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

Seven of 10 Filipinos are against a proposal to change the 1987 Constitution, according to the results of Pulse Asia Research, Inc.’s poll this month.

In a statement, the pollster said 74% of Filipinos did not see the need for Charter change (Cha-cha) regardless of timing.

“This opinion is echoed by small to big majorities in the various areas and classes (69% to 82% and 58% to 80%, respectively),” Pulse Asia said.

It added that 8% of Filipinos thought the Charter should be amended now, while another 8% were open to it under the next government.

Pulse Asia said 6% of Filipinos opposed constitutional amendments now but support at some other time under the present government, while 4% were undecided.

Opposition to Charter change increased by 43% from last year.

“This survey is a true eye opener, that’s why we are carefully studying this and not rushing it,” Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri told reporters via Viber. “The Senate will still conduct hearings in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to truly see the pulse of the people.”

In the Pulse Asia poll, Filipinos were against measures lifting foreign ownership limits in the Constitution (78%), combining both chambers of Congress (74%), extending the term limits of local and national officials (73%) and shifting to a federal government system (71%).

They were also against measures allowing foreign participation in mass media (71%) and foreign ownership of schools (68%).

The pollster interviewed 1,200 adults on March 6 to 10 for the poll, which had an error margin of ±2.8 points.

The House of Representatives last week approved on final reading a proposal to lift foreign ownership limits in the 1987 Philippine Constitution to boost foreign direct investments.

With 288 congressmen voting in favor, the House agreed to liberalize the country’s public utilities, education and advertising sectors, saying these would benefit from increased foreign capital.

A similar Charter change proposal is pending at the Senate committee level.

The Pulse Asia results disagree with the results of a similar poll released last week by Tangere, which said half of Filipinos support the Charter change push.

“It is possible that others might be using different questions that may be prompting their respondents to say the expected response,” Arjan P. Aguirre, an assistant professor of political science at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

Surveys are powerful tools that could be used to sway public opinion on a certain issue, he said. “Surveys can be politicized too.”

Hansley A. Juliano, who teaches political science at the Ateneo, said of Tangere: “Their methods are already different and likely uncritically sampled.”

“Tangere is a market research firm whose products are for sale and are part of an ecosystem of corporate marketers and public relations dipping into social science discourse,” he told BusinessWorld via Messenger chat.

Mr. Aguirre said Pulse Asia is “deemed credible by social scientists and academics” because their polls are open to public scrutiny. — with John Victor D. Ordonez